What is HDR (High Dynamic Range)

High Dynamic Range, or HDR, is a technology used to improve image and video quality.

It functions by boosting the contrastᅳsharpening the appearance of objects, so the light and dark parts of the viewed world stand out with more clarityᅳin image and video. HDR can work with a wide brightness and color output in a manner that delivers a really good viewing experience. What you usually see as a highlight of a viewed object or scene when you view SDR (or Standard Dynamic Range) images or video will look like a supernova when you view the same under the HDR condition.

SDR is what people have used since color television was invented. On an SDR set, tiny parts of any image that show very bright whites or very dark blacks lose their detail. Anything bright is visually reduced to a lily-white blob; anything dark is turned into a blurry black nothing. On an HDR set, you could pull these dynamic parts of an image apart, so you can suddenly see a lot more detail in the bright (and dark) parts of the image.

How to watch HDR content?

In order to view HDR content, you need two things: an HDR-compatible display and source material. HDR displays can produce brighter “whites” and darker “blacks,” as well as a wider “gamut” of colors overall.

This makes the images we see on them more like what we see in real life, with more depth (or “dynamism”), detail, and realism.

Understanding HDR (High Dynamic Range) in depth

1. Expanded Color Gamut: HDR, compared to SDR, can display a wider range of colors, which makes the images and videos seem much more vibrant and lifelike. Achieving this isn’t just a matter of pouring more colors into a display. It’s achieved because of WCG, which stands for Wide Color Gamut, a technology that allows displays to render images with a lot more colors than before, and with much better precision.

2. Superior Brightness: HDR-capable displays can emit a significantly higher amount of brightness, superior even to the difference between “standard” LED and OLED screens. The way an image is divided into highlights, mid-tones, and shadows is affected a lot by how the screen on which you’re viewing can physically represent the intensities and colors of light. While not all HDR screens are created equal (you have to look to the details of what makes the screen HDR), a screen with good and proper HDR will be better in these respects.

3. Enhanced Contrast Ratio: One of the payoffs of using the HDR technique is that you get a superior contrast ratio that makes the image look more vibrant and increases its perceived depth. And if you work with the extremes of brightness and darkness in an image, the better the contrast in that image, the more visual “pop,” or realism, it will have.

Different HDR Standards

There are several HDR standards in existence, such as HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma).

HDR10 is currently the standard most commonly found in consumer electronics and is an open format that any manufacturer can use without having to pay for the use of it.

On the other hand, Dolby Vision wants to offer better potential picture quality and features. And picture “quality” is another term that hasn’t been redefined for the HDR era but probably should be.

Why is HDR Popular and Where Is It Being used?

High-dynamic-range (HDR) imaging technology spans a multitude of disciplines, but its purpose is universal: to compose a visually engaging image.

Viewers are treated to an even more vivid and lifelike picture when they watch television shows and movies in HDR. In the past, most TV shows were shot in standard dynamic range (SDR), a relatively low-tech method of capturing and moving pictures. But now, entire movies and TV shows – dialogue, action, and all – are able to be shot, produced, and post-produced in HDR. This content is then streamed to the consumer’s TV or computer, where a compatible screen and moving visuals of sunrises, for instance, hit the eyes with all the impact of the real thing.

Not just movies and TV shows, but video games, too, are reaping the benefits of high dynamic range imaging. It is now pretty common for big-budget video game titles, especially, to include an “HDR” option that promises better, more vibrant graphics.

And some recent game consoles, like the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One S, have HDR built right into them. In fact, HDR gaming might be the most accessible way for nonprofessionals to experience the technology right now.

What's PseudoHDR?

But, what happens if you want HDR quality, but, can only deliver SDR content?

What Visionular is doing is providing HDR-like quality video but keeping it in SDR format. We refer to this as PseudoHDR. You can input your HDR source footage, but your output is delivered as an SDR stream with “HDR-like” quality. This means you no longer have to deal with the typical HDR limitations.

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